Head coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media on Saturday shortly after the 49ers wrapped up the 2012 NFL Draft.Opening Statement:
"Another good day. Really excited about this draft."
Is this when you really kick into action now, when you're having to call these undrafted guys and try to convince them to come to San Francisco?
"It's gone extremely well. This process is fairly close to being finished, that part of it. Just want to compliment all of our scouts, all of our coaches, on the fabulous job. It's really well organized upstairs, everybody targeted and talked to. We won't release any names today, but you'll see a near-full group by the time we get some FedEx envelopes back."
Last year at this time, you were happy about everybody, but you talked a lot about Colin Jones and your experience at TCU, and how you wanted him on the team. Was there a guy in this class that you had been eyeing all along, that you ended up getting that you're really happy about?
"Yeah, I'm happy about all of them, I really am. Starting with [WR] A.J. [Jenkins]. Just great tape, great young man. I defy anybody to look at that tape and tell me that there's something wrong with it, that there's something that he doesn't do well. [RB] LaMichael [James], love his toughness, love his ability. Love him as a person. Can't wait to see what he's going to be like around this facility. I pretty much know him. He's a very charismatic guy. Great guy to be around. [G] Joe Looney will be the same way. As impressive an interview, one on one interview, as we had at the Combine. Definitely in the top one, two, or three of all the youngsters we talked with in Indy. We believe he'll be a starter in this league for us. Really excited about that, all his traits, and the way he is as a person. Again, right there you're looking at those first three picks were just really outstanding. Then [S] Trenton Robinson, very excited about him. Great skill, athleticism, really has got the ability to be a corner, got those kind of movement skills. Confident more time on task at the safety position that he'll be able to do everything that we need to do there. Learn the angles. Learn how to track the ball deep. Those are things that I believe he'll improve on on our team with our coaching staff and our players. More time on task playing the deep ball. He makes a lot of plays up near the front, he's got that kind of toughness and hard nose to do that. I think he'll improve nicely and be just fine. [OLB Darius] Fleming, another great gold helmet guy. We believe both him and [OLB] Cameron [Johnson] will have an outstanding opportunity with this football team. We rolled the dice last year with only three outside linebackers. It worked, but that is risky what we did last year. Both those youngsters will be competitive and have tremendous upsides. Looking forward to that. Two guys that have graduated and we're really excited about. [OL] Jason Slowey, had a great visit with him. He's an offensive tackle at Western Oregon and, really, what his best position is on this football team, we'll evaluate and see. Right now, we feel like that would probably be guard or center. Feel like a lot of upside with him. Would not even be opposed to just understanding that he's going to need maybe a year, time on task, but great coaches to work with in Coach [Mike] Solari and Coach [Tim] Drevno. We feel like that's someone that has a big upside, a lot of room to grow there. We're excited about that pick. All those guys, really. Who'd you have your eye on, who were you targeting? All those guys. Plus there were others. I'm not going to say that those were the only seven that we were targeting. We were targeting a lot of players in this draft because there's a lot of quality players in this draft. You understand that most of them we're going to play against. Just the nature of the business. It's a great day for all those youngsters. A dream come true for them. A historic day in their lives. Anybody that's touched their lives, in any form or fashion, they take a tremendous amount of pride and joy in seeing that happening to those young people. I feel that way with the guys that we've drafted, and also those players that we coached at Stanford. Guys that I recruited for a year and coached for four years, some recruited for a year and coached for three years. Can't tell you how much joy and pride I had in watching them get selected today. You're a small part of it, but take an immense amount of pride knowing that their dream came true. A dream delivered, and how hard those youngsters have worked for it. Then their parents, their coaches, their teachers, their family members, anybody that touched their lives, it's a big day in those youngsters life and I'm very happy for them and really all the players that got drafted and are signing right now as free agents. It's not the end of that journey, it's very much the beginning."
In this offseason, you guys have added some speed dimension to your offense, both in the draft and in the free agency. Talk about how important that was to add that to give Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman something else to work with, more weapons to work with.
"Well, you want to be bigger, you want to be faster. You want to be stronger, tougher. You're always looking for those talents. And we're a big, strong football team right now. We don't want to lose that. And we're not going to lose that. And we've definitely added some speed, but those players, we didn't just take guys who were just speed guys. Not just work out warrior-type guys, but football players. I love [RB] LaMichael James speed, 4.35 guy. But, I love his toughness, first and foremost. I love the way he plays the game, the joy that he has, the love for it. He loves it, loves it. That's how much he enjoys football. And I've talked about [WR] A.J. [Jenkins] before, and we're not about fueling the hype here with the 49ers. But, today's an exception. There's a bit of exception today because this is such a historic day in these guys' lives and it's a huge day for us as an organization. So, guilty as charged a bit of fueling the hype today, and then I think it's deserved. It's a lot of hard work that these youngsters went through to get to where they are today. And I would also comment on the youngsters that we drafted. Guys that have really done the right things off the field, have done the right things on the field. Whoever mentored them to work hard, and be a good person, and be a good guy in your town, in society. That's paid off for a lot of those youngsters today because we valued that."
You've got a guy from Oregon, Wake Forest, and Notre Dame who you saw when you were at Stanford. Does that factor into a bit of selections at all, the fact that you saw those guys on the field in college?
"No, it really didn't. It didn't factor in that much. With LaMichael that was maybe factored in more than the other guys. But what does always factor in the most is that tape. How they played and how they performed. How they produced on the football field. That's the huge piece in the puzzle. Very small that I was a coach in college and coached against LaMichael James or [G] Joe [Looney], or [LB] Darius [Fleming]."
What made Looney's interview at the Combine so impressive? Why did he jump out to you?
"Oomph, pizzazz. Really bright guy. Really smart, smart person. Not only book smart, but street smart, football smart. Everything matched up. Everything that you'd heard about Joe and all of our research that we did on Joe at the school. You cannot find a person on that campus who has anything less than glowing things to say about him. Professors, coaches, trainers, equipment managers, from faculty to football to everybody that comes in contact with him there literally not a negative word. And you see what he's done, the pattern of success that he's had in the classroom, on the field. And then to meet him and to see and know that it all matches up, that was glaring to me. That's what made that interview stand out."
You're going to get a chance for rookie mini camp and the whole full offseason program. What are you looking forward to most about that since you didn't have last year?
"All of it. Just every day having the players here. Everyday just being around them, this building. Having a buzz of activity going on. Knowing the tangible ways that you're getting better. Seeing coaches work, seeing players work. Everybody seeing what each other's doing. That's been the best, that's the thing that I look forward to the most. It got real - I don't know what the word is - stale. It was here last year without the players in the building month after month after month. And there's just a lot more juice around here."
When you look at some of the tapes of Slowey at Western Oregon and he's playing against Division II opponents, he is just manhandling them and punishing these guys real sort of nastiness to his game. Is that something when you're looking at a Division II guy you want to see a guy beating his opponent, but almost more than beating his opponent, kind of like pushing him around like that? Was that something that caught your eye, was attractive to you guys?
"There's been a lot of great Division II players that have come out of Division II, (Division) IAA, Division III, etcetera. I think one thing you do need to see is that they're dominating their position. Whether that's offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, quarterback, receiver, DB, you want to see that they're dominating. He's another tough, physical guy. Not so much when you meet him. There's a little bit, there must be a switch that's flipped when he goes on the field. Off the field, he's a very nice young man."
There was a report that you got Stanford WR Chris Owusu, can you talk about that?
"Yeah, I can't confirm that. I don't know, maybe this is back to my college days when you sign a guy and you can't talk about him until signing day, until they actually signed the paper. Maybe just wait until everything's signed. But once again, we're nearly close to filling up all this, close to all the 90 roster spots. We really improved this year. I thought as an organization and a staff, scouts and coaches. [Director of Player Personnel] Tom Gamble was amazing, in regards to lining up all of our free agents, as were our coaches. There was a real organization and hum upstairs and we're very close to being done. Feel like we cut some drag and got better in that regard. I think you'll be excited about the names people see when they read about our free agents."